Shovelnose Guitarfish (Rhinobatos productus)

Don’t you think it would be cool to have a fish-shaped guitar? Or better yet, wouldn’t it be awesome if your guitar actually was a fish? Though I guess it would be all cold and slimy and you’d have to play underwater so it wouldn’t die, so maybe we should stick with wooden guitars. Still, I think it’s pretty awesome that there are fish named after guitars.

The shovelnose guitarfish is a member of the guitarfish family, Rhinobatidae. Shovelnose guitarfish live on the western coast of US, from San Francisco to Gurerro, Mexico. They like shallow waters, and especially love those with sandy or muddy bottoms.

Half shark, half ray. Pretty neat looking, I say. Image source: Wikipedia

Half shark, half ray. Pretty neat looking, I say.
Image source: Wikipedia

Shovelnose guitarfish look a bit like a cross between sharks and rays. Their thick tails are shark-like, while their heads look like a ray’s, with big pectoral fins that stick out to the side. The shovelnose part of their name comes from the shovel-like characteristics of their snouts. They can get fairly large, with females reaching lengths of 137 cm and males 120 cm.

Mating in shovelnose occurs in shallow waters during the summer. Males move into the breeding areas first, followed by females. The gestation period is 9-12 months, after which period the females give birth to 6-28 live pups. The females once again return to shallow estuaries and bays to give birth, and once her children have left her, she leaves them to fend for themselves. Aside from the breeding season, shovelnose guitar fish are solitary creatures.

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Some shovelnose forced to interact with one another in an aquarium. Image source: Wikipedia

Shovelnose tend to hang out on the sea floor, keeping themselves partly buried to avoid predators. At night, the guitarfish come out to feed on worms, crabs, clams and fish that are buried under the sandy ocean bottom. Shovelnose guitarfish have a well-developed visual system, which help them detect prey. Other senses also help the fish find cleverly buried morsels: the lateral line system senses movements in the water, and electroreceptors in the shovelnose’s snout can sense animals below the sand.

Shovelnose guitar fish are considered to be rays, though they are thought to be primitive ones that retain many characteristics of sharks. Unlike sharks, however, shovelnose do not have a reputation for being vicious. There has only been one reported attack of a shovelnose biting a diver, and it didn’t result in injury — shovelnose have small, rounded teeth so they can’t do much damage. Which is nice, because you really don’t want a guitar that can savage you.

Cover image source: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/shovelnose-guitarfish

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